Following an investigation into the selling of fake accounts on social media, millions of Twitter followers disappeared across the platform.
The New York Times reports that some popular Twitter accounts have lost more than a million followers this week as Twitter faces growing pressure to deal with fake accounts while federal and state inquiries into the firms selling fake followers continue. A range of prominent accounts have lost followers including entertainers, athletes, and media figures. It seems that many of these popular Twitter users gained their vast following from a company called Devumi which sells fake Twitter followers and provides bot generated engagement with users tweets.
On Saturday, Twitter vowed to take action against Devumi for their abuse of Twitter’s platform but the company refused to respond when asked if they were behind the recent mass account deletion. Some of the popular Twitter users affected by the mass account deletion include actor John Leguizamo, American Idol singer Clay Aiken, and British businesswoman and Twitter board member Martha Lane Fox.
Some Twitter users believe that they may have lost legitimate followers due to the mass account deletion.
Twitter deleted millions of accounts over night, leading to me losing 500 followers by the time I woke up. At least send me flowers if you’re going to fuck me that hard over night Twitter.
— Dan LaMorte (@DanLaMorte) January 28, 2018
I lost 5-6K since yesterday.
— Adina Porter (@AdinaPorter) January 28, 2018
The purge of fake accounts comes shortly after Senators Jerry Moran of Kansas and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut requested that the Federal Trade Commission begin an investigation into the “deceptive and unfair marketing practices” of Devumi and their competitors. Devumi promises to deliver “100 Percent Active, English Followers,” but an analysis of the followers they provide show that the majority of them are entirely fake, as are the retweets they offer. Twitter specifically prohibits the purchasing of followers of any kind.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, has also begun an investigation into Devumi, as has New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. Bondi said in a statement, “Based on the New York Times article, we have opened an investigation into these very serious allegations… We would encourage any citizens who believe they have been a victim of this scam to please contact the Florida attorney general’s office immediately.”